If I have learned anything in 2010, it’s that there are few things as valuable as strong community. To say this year got off to a bad start would be a huge understatement. In my first post of 2010, I wrote about how I feared things would change this year. Had I known how true those words would become, I would have dug myself a hole and stayed there. Call me a modern-day prophet? I'm kidding, but it's almost eerie how I predicted this year going.
Our group of friends became family so quickly that I often forget we’re not actually related. We love each other that well. But this year none of us have been able to escape life’s ugliness. We have faced trials none of us were prepared for.
The first half of this year I struggled immensely with “Why?” I thought maybe we had done something wrong. Maybe things had been too good. Maybe our paths were changing and because our trials were too much to endure, the community as we had known it would never be the same.
Maybe I would lose them.
I felt like I was clinging on for dear life.
I was wrong. And surprisingly it took a week on the road for me to truly understand just what it was God was up to.
A few weeks ago I was on the road to promote Jars of Clay’s new record, The Shelter. The basic theme of The Shelter is community. The band got the idea from old Irish words that say, “It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.”
While we were visiting with a radio station, Dan, the lead singer of the band said something that literally made me whisper under my breath…that’s it! It was one of those moments I will never forget. He said that the church often tells us to seek out community so that we can find a safe place with like-minded people. But that’s only half of it. It’s important to have a safe place with people that think the way we do, but the other half of community is this: it is in the safety of community that we link arms and together go out into unsafe places.
This year has been full of unsafe places – pain, loss, uncertainty…
God was never trying to tell me that our messiness was punishment. Instead he showed me that he had prepared us for such a time as this. The good years we shared together were great, and there is far better to come, but what we didn’t realize was that during this year’s painful season, he was equipping us to carry each other into the unsafe.
I came home more thankful for my home team than ever before. I truly believe that the painful season is beginning to come to a close, but it was in the painful moments that I learned just how safe I am; knowing my “family” will never let me go. I wish I would have been able to realize that from the beginning, but it’s such a big lesson that I understand now why God asked me to walk it out. The journey now involves reminding myself of that each day.
I know many people don’t read this blog and I’ve always written it just for me, but I can say this from experience: if you are going through pain and uncertainty, cling to your home team. Don’t walk away when life gets ugly, even when it feels like the easiest thing to do. I'm a runner; I very well know it's not easy to stick it out. Don’t assume you are being punished; instead assume there is a big lesson to be learned. Open your eyes to the love that surrounds you and your heart to the people who make this life worth living. You will reach the other side together, so much stronger than before.
To my dear home team, I love all of you more than words can express. I hate that this year has been so difficult, but I wouldn’t (and couldn’t) have walked this road with anyone else.
Now I say let’s celebrate the good times ahead of us! At the beach, perhaps?